I used to think about summer flying by as something sad, like you are wasting an opportunity to have fun and enjoy your life before the inevitable doom and gloom of winter get you. But since summers in Hong Kong could be rated, even by the most loyal person, as not the most enjoyable (and unbearably blazing hot). I am counting weeks until autumn. However, spending time only at home and at work won’t be the optimal choice (and you can have only that amount of junk parties), so here are some reasons to get out and bravely tolerate a bit of heat before diving into the aircon space… I mean into the art, of course.
Why: This is not a group exhibition but a curated showcase of a private art collection. It made me very emotional in several different ways—to my great surprise. First of all, I was really happy for Yuri van Der Leest—a chance to work through his own art collection with a curator should be a unique and rather special experience. Then of course I was delighted that such a treat of an exhibition was even made—not often do we have a chance to see an exhibited art collection. I was also glad for Hong Kong artists—a big portion of what is being shown was by local artists, both established and emerging.
But personally I’m extremely giddy to see some of these works again. You see, when somebody has bought an artwork from an exhibition, chances are you’ll never ever see it in your life. Sure, it’s not like meeting an interesting person just to never see them again, but maybe the comparison to a movie, a book, or a song, will be more relatable. So having a chance to meet some of the works again, all together in one place, left me overwhelmed with pure joy. I’ll definitely go to see the exhibition at least one more time.
When: 16 July – 16 September Where: Rossi & Rossi, 11F, M Place, 54 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang
Why: It’s difficult to avoid some questionable jokes about the road to baroque being dark, pompous, and violent because these are things that come to mind—mine at least—when we talk about Baroque art. Somebody killing someone in a dark space, flowers and fruits pouring down from a picture plane, people and horses smashing into piles, or a person in lavish clothes looking right into your eyes, unimpressed and imperious. Who are these people? What’s going on here and why should you even care—apart from being told that you have to see it because of Culture?
Fear not, here are some bits of information that can make this exhibition more interesting if you know nothing about the art from this period.
“Drama, more drama, add all drama that you have. Look how impressive and majestic I am!’’ Be very, very Catholic, in the most anti-Protestantism way possible. A lot of these works were used as visual propaganda to remind viewers of the power and strength of the Catholic Church (and persuade them to not even think about new Northern Europe heresy); hence these paintings were mostly based on biblical and mythological stories—with a great deal of fighting, struggle, and death!
For visual language, expect an abundance of exaggerated poses, dynamic movements, almost no serene idealisation (a standard for Renaissance paintings), and contrasting lighting as one of the main tools. Words to remember are Chiaroscuro and Tenebrism, both referring to theatrical, or even cinematic, light and shadow contrast. Teneberism is more specific for Baroque art, while Chiaroscuro is a more general term for different degrees of such contrast—not all Chiaroscuro is Teneberism, but all Teneberism is Chiaroscuro.
“But there are also portraits!” Yes, because people are people, rich folks wanted to have a portrait to show off and artists wanted money to survive, so all that drama and dynamism we admire in paintings and murals commissioned by the Church can be toned down and used for much less violent portraits. Still all these people look very realistic, showing character and personality, expressing human emotions to at least some degree.
Take your time at the museum, read labels, listen to audio guides, and enjoy your own road to Baroque (though it’s still dark there, literally).
When: 15 July – 2 November Where: 2/F, The Special Gallery, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Tsim Sha Tsui
Why: The mystical, captivating and enchanting story of an imaginary village in a dystopian world, a place where fragments of memories are stored and whimsical alien organisms inhabit, a place that means “going home” in the Hakka dialect. Don’t want to give any more spoilers, so go look at the artworks and then watch a video stored in a suitcase and I promise everything will make sense as the story unfolds. Would love to tell you more but that will be dangerously close to retelling a book or a movie.
When: 16 July – 20 August Where: Gallery Exit, 3/F, 25 Hing Wo Street, Tin Wan
Why: One of those shows that I can’t fully understand due to the cultural differences and just me not being born and raised here, in Hong Kong. It’s a group show curated by Eric Kot (the Eric Kot, that one Eric Kot, etc.) and it’s a celebration of local art, design and craftsmanship. Also it’s an experience, a social commentary, a you-can-buy-everything-you-see show and pure miracle because I don’t know how else it is possible to fit so much into a space so tiny. But if you think about it that’s the essence of Hong Kong.
When: 9 July – 8 August Where: Odds and Ends, H307, Block B, PMQ, Central
Why: Everyday views, mundane scenes, small details. All the things—big and small—which once were will no longer be. With all the normal changes multiplied by the events of the last few years saying goodbye feels more and more poignant and any changes look less and less desirable. It’s a bitter sweet exhibition that can leave you with a light sadness and longing for the past.
I was lucky to attend the artist’s studio and see the lino boards for these prints and that took part of the sadness away, because it’s possible to preserve the moments, no matter how insignificant or unimportant they may seem, so now I see it more of a Hello than only a Goodbye.
When: 14 July – 13 August Where: Karin Weber Gallery, 20 Aberdeen Street, Central
Why: Funny how waste and wasting can refer to losing something precious and valuable like time or energy, but also to something you don’t need anymore and would very much prefer to lose. Human existence is wasteful in all the meanings possible yet we miraculously manage to produce something meaningful, important and marvellous, sometimes out of that exact waste. Well, maybe not all of us are uniformly good at that, but Go Hung, Sharu Sikdar, and Wong Chun Kit did it perfectly. Whether it’s using your own hair to document the passing of time, or criticising Hong Kong’s housing crisis using just plastic scraps, or pondering on abandoned and discarded words and forgotten meanings—the artists and the curator played and worked with the theme in depth so visiting this exhibition is totally not a waste of your time.
When: 2 July – 20 August Where: Novalis Art Design, G/F, 197 Hollywood Road. Central